It ways and deserve open heart to

It is only when we have
that room for the indigenous treatments and understanding of illnesses that it is
able to tap the vast untapped traditional and cultural wisdom. This was true for
example for the discovery of artemisinin in the Chinese herbal medicine as an effective
drug against the deadly malaria.

In medical anthropology,
you do not discard something because you cannot explain it. You rather try to understand
the why and the how behind a successful ritual or shamanic process in healing
some diseases. The commitment of the field to enable the complementary
existence of both traditional and modern medicine is something that I always appreciate.
As we have learned from our first day class debate session, it is not uncommon
to find people criticize the work of Anthropologists claiming they do nothing
except description of what happens. But I think the expression of their work as
‘mere’ description is something that belittles the effort as that mere
description is above all the first step of explaining the why and the how of
anything. After you learn the data is that you can be able to interpret it.

At the heart of medical
anthropology is the assumption that there are different stories in the world
and all of them are right in their own ways and deserve open heart to be
understood. This always has been something I always think of since I was
introduced to the principles of mental disorders and their treatments. The area
of psychology and the concept of mental illness in general mainly is Before I
joined a university to study Psychology, I, like the communities in my little
town, used to consider churches as a very good source of treatment, which I
still do for many reasons. Since the place is a touristic place in northern
Ethiopia, we have a lot of visitors from the west-Europe and the U.S.. One
Saturday afternoon, while we were gathered for a regular church healing
service, came foreigners to see what was going on, led by a tour guide. As I
loved to talk with strangers to improve my English and to exchange ideas, I
approached one of these old white folks and asked if he was a Christian and he
replied he was. And I honestly thought they too have a church service like that
and they use holy water for treatment in the church. And I didn’t even asked if
they have, I just jumped to how they do it and if that is similar. However, to
my disappointment, he replied, ‘We don’t use holy water for such treatments, we
have a ‘modern’ treatment for these kinds of problems’. Of all his comments, ‘Modern
treatments’ lingered in my mind to this very day and make me question the
definition. This even have inspired me enough to write a Master thesis (with
all its problems) about the religious treatments we have in Ethiopia. Even for
this Master course, my thesis topic will look into the challenges of therapists
with modern treatment training that work with immigrants with various belief
systems about the cause of their problems and its healing process. My previous
work about the religious treatments in Ethiopia calls for a further, better
understanding of these religious and other traditional treatments and to begin
to look at the positive contribution they can offer to the field of mental
health in countries like mine where ‘modern’ treatments and resources are very
scarce and/or hard to access. Though this treatments in


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